💁🏻‍♀️ Dear Marie

I'm annoyed with my travel companion. What now?

April 09, 2019

Dear Marie,

We are at day 6 out of our 8 day vacation. Starting two days ago I start to find my travel companion annoying. And it gets worse and worse. I really don’t want to talk to her at all now. I can’t really pin why. I think it’s part she didn’t prepare at all for the trip, part of she ignoring some common rules (be on time, do not pick plants etc) and part of she kept making uneducated comments (probably due to not preparing). Anyway. How do you cope with that?

Troubled Traveler

Hey Troubled Traveler,

Vacation is such a heightened experience, isn’t it? Everything wonderful seems exceptionally delightful and everything frustrating seems especially stressful and intolerable.

Most people have preferences for the way they like to travel:

  • 📆 Some folks thrive on scheduling, planning, being on time, and knowing what they’re doing every day.
  • 💃 Others want to seek adventure and thrill in every moment, keeping their schedule open so they can be spontaneous.
  • 🏝 Still more enjoy low-key, relaxed vacations where they can rest and restore and minimize stress.

It sounds like some of the things you value in travel are preparedness and being on time. Those are generally good things! But it sounds like your traveling companion may have a different style. And that’s okay too!

You don’t give a lot of specific examples. I’m really curious to know what you mean by “making uneducated comments.” If that means being rude or discriminatory about the people or place you are visiting, that’s a major problem that you should bring up immediately as being unacceptable.

If you mean something more like “she didn’t know any of the museums or historical points of interest in the city we are visiting” then yeah, that could be annoying (especially if you’re a planner). But that’s not a major problem if she’s content to travel that way. It would be a different story if she were demanding that you do all the preparation and be her all-in-one travel agent and tour guide!

It might be helpful to think about a couple examples of her behavior that you find particularly irritating. If there is anything that your travel companion is doing that is harmful or really upsetting to you, talk to her about it! Don’t dump all your feelings and stress on her at once, or just act annoyed and take it out on her by being rude in small ways. Instead, tell her:

  • a specific example of a behavior that upsets you,
  • why that bothered you,
  • and what you’d prefer moving forward.1

You cannot change your travel companion’s behavior. You can only request that she make changes, and make your own choices in response.

Be ready to be flexible and make compromise too! It’s a two-way street. If you ask your travel companion to show up to the train station a half-hour earlier than she’d like because you prefer to be punctual, you should probably be willing to make a spontaneous detour to the coffee shop she saw on Instagram. ☕️

If you realize that spending all day with her is stressful, go off on your own. Agree to split up for a few hours and meet back somewhere later. Luxuriate in the ability to do what you want, how you want, on your own timetable.

If you are uncomfortable being by yourself and it doesn’t seem like she’s going to change the things that irritate you, you’re probably going to have to figure out how to be okay with being around her for another few days—and avoid taking trips with her in the future.

Before you schedule your next vacation, think about what kind of travel you like to do, and what style you’re looking for in that particular trip. Then talk to your intended travel companions and see if you’re on the same page. Some people make excellent, wonderful friends but have conflicting travel styles. Or maybe you mesh well enough in a balanced group, but you can’t take 1:1 trips together. Some friends will be your perfect adventure buddies… and others will drive you up the wall. It’s good to know the difference.

🤞🏻 I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip, and that your next vacation is smoother!


  1. This is basically a stripped-down version of Nonviolent Communication, which is a really helpful and beautiful model of how to have hard conversations with people.

Marie Chatfield Rivas

Written by Marie Chatfield Rivas, an amateur aspiring advice columnist, certified Emoji Enthusiast™, and purveyor of fine tweets.

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